If this is what Kia is capable of when it’s dipping a toe into the hot hatchback waters, we can’t wait to see what the company will achieve when it eventually decides to make a full-fat GTI.
The Kia Proceed GT is a real surprise and a car that delivers both on the road and as an ownership proposition. There are more exciting cars, there are certainly faster ones and there are plenty with a better brand image, but in the Proceed GT, Kia has produced a well-rounded, uncomplicated warm hatch at a competitive price.
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That value does depend on which group of vehicles you see as the Kia's rivals, however - on price and performance it's a car from the Fiesta, Polo and Clio class, but in terms of size, feel and equipment it's more closely matched with Focus STs and Golf GTIs.
It isn't perfect however, and after spending plenty of time in Proceed GTs in our long-term Fast Fleet, we don't think Kia has quite nailed the depth of ability that keeps us coming back to some of the greatest hot hatchbacks. That may come in time however, so we'll be keeping a very close eye on Kia over the coming years.
Kia Proceed GT: in detail
> Performance and 0-60 time - Modest power and a healthy kerb weight limit outright performance, but if it's your introduction to hot hatches you'll find enjoyable performance.
> Engine and gearbox - Smaller than the average for this class at 1.6 litres, though we applaud the use of a six-speed manual transmission rather than a fashionable dual-clutch auto.
> Ride and handling - Kia's hot hatch is on the safe and refined side of hot hatch handling, but it's still good fun on the right road and pretty adept on track too.
> MPG and running costs - Won't match Kia's new Niro hybrid for parsimony, but we're getting a manageable low-30s mpg from our long-term Proceed GT.
> Interior and tech - The GT's cabin is easy to live with and fairly comfortable and well-built. Driving position is good too.
> Design - Of-the-moment styling might not age well but it's striking in the short-term. You won't see many others on the road either (particularly in yellow!)
> Living with a Kia Proceed GT - Trouble-free when on our Fast Fleet, but lacks the ability to really get under your skin.
Prices, specs and rivals
The Kia Proceed GT currently starts at £23,510. If that sounds a bit steep given the car used to start nearer the £20k mark, it’s because the standard and ‘Tech’ models have since been amalgamated – presumably, nobody was buying the lower-spec ones anyway – so standard GTs now feature a full roster of kit.
Standard features now include Xenon adaptive headlights, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, part-leather Recaro seats, and a 7-inch touchscreen with DAB radio and satellite navigation.
Kia will also sell you a Kia Ceed GT, based on the more conventional five-door hatchback Ceed. This one starts at £24,010 - so only £500 more than the Proceed - but is otherwise identical, including the option to specify it in vibrant yellow paintwork like the car in our images. Unfortunately, there's no Ceed Sportswagon GT to take on VW and Ford's hotter estates.
A £23k price tag puts the Proceed GT somewhere between cars in the Polo GTI and Golf GTI (or Fiesta and Focus ST, or Clio and Megane RS) classes – those two models specifically will set you back £19,500 and £27,550 respectively in their three-door, manual forms. In terms of space, practicality and a grown-up feel the Proceed is definitely closer to cars like the Golf and Focus, but for performance it's a closer match to the cars in the class below.
And it's those smaller vehicles that would cause us to scratch our heads before considering the Kia. Unless you need the extra space, the Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 GTI and Clio 200/220 Trophy are all more entertaining options and the Clio in particular wouldn't prove much harder to live with, thanks to its five-door body and decent interior space. The smaller hatches all handle better than the Kia and all feel a little more urgent in their performance.